Maurice G. (Maurice Garland) Fulton.

Southern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry online

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agin the law fur folks ter feed an shelter them ez is a-runnin
from jestice. An ye ? 11 git yerself inter trouble. Other folks
will find ye out, besides me, an then the sheriff 11 be up hyar
arter ye."

The tears rose to Clarsie s eyes. This prospect was infinitely
more terrifying than the awful doom which follows the horror
of a ghost s speech.

" I can t holp it," she said, however, doggedly swinging the
pail back and forth. " I can t gin my consent ter starvin of
folks, even ef they air a-hidin an a-runnin from jestice." . . .

He left her walking on toward the rising sun, and retraced
his way to the forks of the road. The jubilant morning was
filled with the song of birds ; the sunlight flashed on the dew ;
all the delicate enameled bells of the pink and white azaleas
were swinging tremulously in the wind ; the aroma of ferns
and mint rose on the delicious fresh air. Presently he checked
his pace, creeping stealthily on the moss and grass beside the
road rather than in the beaten path. He pulled aside the leaves
of the laurel with no more stir than the wind might have made,
and stole cautiously through its dense growth, till he came sud
denly upon the puny little ghost," lying in the sun at the foot of
a tree. The frightened creature sprang to his feet with a wild
cry of terror, but before he could move a step he was caught
and held fast in the strong grip of the stalwart mountaineer
beside him. " I hev kem hyar ter tell ye a word, Reuben
Crabb," said Simon Burney. " I hev kem hyar ter tell ye that
the whole mounting air a-goin ter turn out ter sarch fur ye ;
the sheriff air a-ridin now, an ef ye don t come along with me


they 11 hev ye afore night, kase thai air two hunderd dollars
reward fur ye."

What a piteous wail went up to the smiling blue sky, seen
through the dappling leaves above them ! What a horror, and
despair, and prescient agony were in the hunted creature s
face ! The ghost struggled no longer ; he slipped from his feet
down upon the roots of the tree, and turned that woful face,
with its starting eyes and drawn muscles and quivering parted
lips, up toward the unseeing sky.

" God A mighty, man ! " exclaimed Simon Burney, moved to
pity. " Why n t ye quit this hyar way of livin in the woods like
ye war a wolf ? Why n t ye come back an stand yer trial ?
From all I ve hearn tell, it pears ter me ez the jury air
obleeged ter let ye off, an I 11 take keer of ye agin them

" I hain t got no place ter live in," cried out the ghost, with
a keen despair.

Simon Burney hesitated. Reuben Crabb was possibly a
murderer, at the best could but be a burden. The burden,
however, had fallen in his way, and he lifted it.

" I tell ye now, Reuben Crabb," he said, " I ain t a-goin ter
holp no man ter break the law an hender jestice ; but ef ye
will go an stand yer trial, I 11 take keer of ye agin them Grims
ez long ez I kin fire a rifle. An arter the jury hev done let ye
off, ye air welcome ter live along o me at my house till ye die.
Ye air no count ter work, I know, but I ain t a-goin ter grudge
ye fur a livin at my house."

And so it came to pass that the reward set upon the head of
the harnt that walked Chilhowee was never claimed.

With his powerful ally, the forlorn little specter went to stand
his trial, and the jury acquitted him without leaving the box.
Then he came back to the mountains to live with Simon Bur
ney. The cruel gibes of his biyly mockers that had beset his


feeble life from his childhood up, the deprivation and loneliness
and despair and fear that had filled those days when he walked
Chilhowee, had not improved the harnt s temper. He was a
helpless creature, not able to carry a gun or hold a plow, and
the years that he spent smoking his cob pipe in Simon Burney s
door were idle years and unhappy. But Mrs. Giles said she
thought he was " a mighty lucky little critter : fust, he hed Joel
ter take keer of him an feed him, when he tuk ter the woods
ter pertend he war a harnt ; an they do say now that Clarsie
Pratt, afore she war married, used ter kerry him vittles, too ;
an then old Simon Burney tuk him up an fed him ez plenty
ez ef he war a good workin hand, an gin him clothes an
house-room, an put up with his jawin jes like he never
hearn a word of it. But law ! some folks dunno when they
air well off."

There was only a sluggish current of peasant blood in Simon
Burney s veins, but a prince could not have dispensed hospitality \
with a more royal hand. Ungrudgingly he gave of his best ; /
valiantly he defended his thankless guest at the risk of his life ;
with a moral gallantry he struggled with his sloth, and worked
early and late, that there might be enough to divide. There
was no possibility of a recompense for him, not even in the
encomiums of discriminating friends, nor the satisfaction of
tutored feelings and a practiced spiritual discernment ; for he
was an uncouth creature, and densely ignorant.

The grace of culture is, in its way, a fine thing, but the best
that art can do the polish of a gentleman is hardly equal
to the best that Nature can do in her higher moods.



[Thomas Nelson Page was born in Hanover County, Virginia, in
1 853. He was educated at Washington and Lee University. He then

studied law at the University of
Virginia, and between 1875 and
1 893 he practiced his profession
in Richmond. Since 1893 Mr.
Page has lived in Washington
and has given himself entirely
to literary work. Like other
Southern writers of his time he
began his literary career by writ
ing stories and sketches for the
newspapers and magazines. His
first stories were collected in 1 887
and published under the title
" In Ole Virginia." His later
writings have included, in addi
tion to several volumes of short
stories, novels and collections of
essays. Since 1 893 Mr. Page has
lived in Washington and given himself entirely to literary work. In
1913 he was appointed by President Wilson Ambassador to Italy.]


The narrator is an old darky, who is pictured in the begin
ning of the story as standing with a hoe and a watering pot
in his hand, waiting at the "worm-fence" for the advent down
the path of a noble-looking old setter, gray with age and over-
round from too abundant feeding. The setter, like some old-
time planter, sauntered slowly, and in lordly oblivion of the
negro, up to the fence, while the latter began to take down the
rails, talking meanwhile to the dog in a pretended tone of

1 This summary, giving a good idea of the story " Marse Chan," is reprinted
with some adaptations from H. E. Fiske s " Provincial Types in American Fiction."



criticism : " Now. I got to pull down de gap, I suppose ! Yo so
sp ilt yo kyahn hardly walk. Jes ez able to git over it as I is !
Jes like white folks think cuz you s white and I s black, I
got to wait on yo all de time. Xe m mine, I ain gwi do it!"
As his dogship marched sedately through the "gap" and down
the road, the negro suddenly discovered a stranger looking on,
and hastened to remark somewhat apologetically: "He know I
don mean nothin by what I sez. He s Marse Chan s dawg,
an he s so ole he kyahn git long no pearter. He know I se
jes prodjickin wid im."

The darky explained to the stranger that " Marse Chan "
(or Channin ) was his young master, that the place with "de
rock gate-pos s " which the stranger had just passed was " ole
Cun l Chamb lin s," and that since the war " our place " had
been acquired by certain "unknowns" who were probably "half-

At the request of the stranger to tell him all about "Marse
Chan" the old negro recalled, "jes like t wuz yistiddy," how
"ole marster" (Marse Chan s father), smiling " wus n a pos
sum," came out on the porch with his new-born son in his
arms, and catching sight of Sam (the narrator, who was then
but eight years old), called him up on the porch and put the
baby in his arms, with the solemn injunction that Sam was to
be the young master s body servant as long as he lived. " Yo
jes ought to a-heard de folks sayin , Lawd ! marster, dat boy 11
drap dat chile ! Naw, he won t, sez marster ; I kin trust
im. " And then the old master walked after Sam carrying the
young master, until Sam entered the house and laid his precious
burden on the bed.

Sam recalled, too, how Marse Chan, when in school, once
carried Miss Anne, Colonel Chamberlin s little daughter, on his
shoulders across a swollen creek, and how the next day, when
his father gave him a pony to show his pleasure over his son s


chivalry, Marse Chan came walking home from school, having
given his pony to Miss Anne. " Yes, sez ole marster, laughin ,
* I s pose you s already done giv her yo se f , an nex thing I
know you ll be givin her this plantation and all my niggers. "
It was only a fortnight later that Colonel Chamberlin invited
the " ole marster " and his whole family over to dinner, ex
pressly naming Marse Chan in the note, and after dinner
two ponies stood at the door, the one Marse Chan had given
Miss Anne, and the other a present to Marse Chan from the
Colonel. And after a " gre t " speech by the Colonel, the two
young lovers went off to ride, while the "grown folks" laughed
and chatted and smoked their cigars.

To the eye of Sam s endearing memory those were the good
old times, " de bes Sam ever see ! Dey wuz, in fac ! Niggers
did n hed nothin t all to do jes hed to ten to de feedin an
cleanin de horses, an doin what de marster tell em to do ;
an when dey wuz sick, dey had things sont em out de house,
an de same doctor come to see em whar ten to de white
folks when dey wuz po ly. Dyar warn no trouble nor nothin ."

The considerate affection shown for the young Sam by
Marse Chan was illustrated by the little incident of the punish
ment inflicted on both of them by the " ole marster " for sliding
down the straw-stacks against orders. The master first whipped
young Marse Chan and then began on Sam, who was using his
lungs to lighten the severity of his punishment. Marse Chan
took his own whipping without a murmur ; " but soon ez he
commence warmin me an I begin to holler, Marse Chan he
bu st out cryin , an stept right in befo old marster, an ketchin
de whup, sed : " Stop, seh ! Yo sha n t whup im ; he b longs
to me, an ef you hit im another lick I 11 set im free ! . . .

" Marse Chan he war n mo n eight years ole, an dyah dey
wuz ole marster standin wid he whup raised up, an Marse
Chan red an cryin , hoPin on to it, an sayin I b longs to im.


" Ole marster, he raise de whup, an den he drapt it, an broke
out in a smile over he face, an he chuck Marse Chan onder de
chin, an tu n right roun an went away, laughin to hisse f ; an
I heah im tellin ole missis dat evenin , an laughin bout it."

Sam s vivid memory saw again the picture of the dawn-light
on the river when Marse Chan and old Colonel Chamberlin
fought their famous duel that grew out of the unfounded charges
against Marse Chan s father made by the Colonel in a political
speech. Sam could see again the early morning light on his
young master s face, and could hear the ominous voice of one
of the seconds saying, " Gentlemen, are you ready ? "

" An he sez, f Fire, one, two an ez he said one ole
Cun l Chamb lin raised he pistil an shot right at Marse Chan.
De ball went th oo his hat. I seen he hat sort o settle on he
head ez de bullit hit it, an he jes tilted his pistil up in de a r an
shot bang; an ez de pistil went bang, he sez to Cun l Cham
b lin, * I mek you a present to yo fam ly, seh ! . . .

" But ole Cun l Chamb lin he nuver did furgive Marse
Chan, an Miss Anne she got mad too. Wimmens is mons us
onreasonable nohow. Dey s jes like a catfish : you can n tek
hole on em like udder folks, an when you gits m yo can n
always hole em."

In sympathetic and picturesque language the old darky
recounted the last meeting between Marse Chan and Miss
Anne, as they stood together in the moonlight, and Sam over
heard the fateful words of the implacable Southern woman,
" * But I don love yo . (Jes dem th ee wuds !) De wuds fall
right slow like dirt falls out a spade on a coffin when yo s
buryin anybody, an seys, Uth to uth. Marse Chan he jes let
her hand drap, an he stiddy hisse f g inst de gate-pos , an he
did n speak torekly."

Sam s account of how Marse Chan went to the war, of
how in the tent he knocked down Mr. Ronny for speaking


contemptuously of Colonel Chamberlin and his daughter, and
of the effect on Marse Chan s face of the letter of reconciliation
and love he received from Miss Anne, brings the vivid narra
tive to Marse Chan s splendid charge on the field at the head of
the regiment, carrying its fallen flag up the hill, and inspiring
it by his dauntless leadership. " I seen im when he went, de
sorrel four good lengths ahead o ev ry urr hoss, jes like he
use to be in a fox-hunt, an de whole rigimint right arfter him."
But suddenly the sorrel came galloping back, the rein hanging
down on one side to his knee, and poor Sam knew that
Marse Chan was killed. He found his master among the dead,
still holding in his hand the flag. " I tu n im over an call
im, Marse Chan ! but t wan no use, he wuz done gone home,
sho nuff. I pick im up in my arms wid de fleg still in he
han s, an toted im back jes like I did dat day when he wuz
a baby, an ole marster gin im to me in my arms, an sez he
could trus me, an tell me to tek keer on im long ez he lived."

And when Sam reached home with the body in the ambu
lance and had gone over to let Miss Anne know the awful
news that " Marse Chan he done got he furlough," and she
had ridden back and prostrated herself before Marse Chan s
old mother, there is the close of the tragic story as told by the
old negro in these words :

" Ole missis stood for bout a minit lookin down at her, an den
she drapt down on de flo by her, an took her in bofe her arms.

" I could n see, I wuz cryin so myse f, an ev ybody wuz cryin .
But dey went in arfter a while in de parlor, an shet de do ; an
I heahd em say, Miss Anne she tuk de coffin in her arms an
kissed it, an kissed Marse Chan, an call im by his name, an
her darlin , an ole missis lef her cryin in dyar tell some one on
em went in, an found her done faint on de flo ." And it was not
long before Miss Anne, broken by nursing in the hospitals and
by fever and sorrow, was laid beside the body of Marse Chan.



His training was not always that of the modern law-class ;
but it was more than a substitute for it ; and it was of its own
kind complete. He " read law under " some old lawyer, some
friend of his father or himself, who, although not a professor,
was, without professing it, an admirable teacher. He associated
with him constantly, in season and out of season ; he saw him in
his every mood ; he observed him in intercourse with his clients,
with his brothers of the bar, with the outside world ; he heard him
discourse of law, of history, of literature, of religion, of philoso
phy ; he learned from him to ponder every manifestation of
humanity ; to consider the great underlying principles into which
every proposition was resolvable ; he found in him an exemplifi
cation of much that he inculcated, and a frank avowal of that
wherein he failed. He learned to accept Lord Coke s dictum,
" melior est peter e fontes quam sectari rivulos" to look to the
sources rather than to tap the streams ; he fed upon the strong
meat of the institutes and the commentaries with the great leading
cases which stand now as principles ; he received by absorption
the traditions of the profession. On these, like a healthy child,
he grew strong without taking note. Thus in due time when his
work came he \vas fully equipped. His old tutor had not only
taught him law ; he had taught him that the law was a science,
and a great, if not the greatest, science. He had impressed him
with the principles which he himself held, and they were sound ;
he had stamped upon his mind the conviction, that he, his tutor,
was the greatest lawyer of his time, a conviction which no
subsequent observation or experience ever served to remove.

He had made his mark, perhaps unexpectedly, in some case
in which the force of his maturing intellect had suddenly burst
forth, astonishing alike the bar and the bench and enrapturing
the public. Perhaps it was a criminal case ; perhaps one in


which equity might be on his side, with the law dead against
him ; and which was regarded by older men with the conserva
tism of age as impossible until, by his brilliant effort, he unex
pectedly won it. As like as not he rode forty miles that night
to give a flower to his sweetheart.

From this time his reputation, his influence, and his practice
increased. His professional position was henceforth assured.
He had risen from a tyro to be an old lawyer.


[James Lane Allen was born near Lexington, Kentucky, in 1 849.
He attended Transylvania University, and after teaching school for
several years he accepted the chair of Latin and higher English in
Bethany College, West Virginia. After two years he resigned this
position and has since devoted himself to literature, residing the
greater part of the time in New York City. His earlier sketches
of Kentucky life were published in 1891 under the title "Flute
and Violin." This was followed by the short novels " A Kentucky
Cardinal," and its sequel " Aftermath," and " A Summer in Arcady."
With " The Choir Invisible " Mr. Allen began to work in the longer
form of fiction, the novel, which has since chiefly occupied his time.]


[Under the new conditions resulting from the Civil War and
his altered fortunes, Colonel Romulus Fields, representing
" thft^flpwpE- p that social order which had bloomed in rank
perfection over the blue-grass plains of Kentucky during the
final decades of the old re gime." determined to sell his place
and move to town. Of the Colonel s former slaves, one
remained inseparable from his person. This was " an old gen
tleman for such he was named Peter Cotton." " In early

1 These extracts from the story entitled " Two Gentlemen of Kentucky " are
reprinted from " Flute and Violin " by special arrangement with the publishers
of Mr. Allen s works, the Macmillan Company.



manhood Peter had been a woodchopper ; but he had one
day had his leg broken by the limb of a falling tree, and after
wards, out of consideration for his limp, had been made super
visor of the woodpile, gardener, and a sort of nondescript servitor
of his master s luxurious needs. Xay, in larger and deeper
characters must his history be writ, he having been, in days
gone by, one of those ministers
of the gospel whom conscien
tious Kentucky masters often
urged to the exercise of spiritual
functions in behalf of their be
nighted people/ ]


About two years after the
close of the war, therefore, the
colonel and Peter were to be
found in the city, ready to turn
over a new leaf in the volumes
of their lives, which already
had an old-fashioned binding, a
somewhat musty odor, and but
few written leaves remaining.

After a long, dry summer
you may have seen two gnarled old apple trees, that stood with
interlocked arms on the western slope of some quiet hillside,
make a melancholy show of blooming out again in the autumn
of the year and dallying with the idle buds that mock their
sapless branches. Much the same was the belated, fruitless
efflorescence of the colonel and Peter.

The colonel had no business habits, no political ambition, no
wish to grow richer. He was too old for society, and without
near family ties. For some time he wandered through the
streets like one lost, sick \vith yearning for the fields and


woods, for his cattle, for familiar faces. He haunted Cheapside
and the courthouse square, where the farmers always assembled
when they came to town ; and if his eye lighted on one, he
would buttonhole him on the street corner and lead him into a
grocery and sit down for a quiet chat. Sometimes he would
meet an aimless, melancholy wanderer like himself, and the two
would go off and discuss over and over again their departed
days ; and several times he came unexpectedly upon some of
his old servants who had fallen into bitter want, and who more
than repaid him for the help he gave by contrasting the hard
ships of a life of freedom with the ease of their shackled years.

In the course of time, he could but observe that human life
in the town was reshaping itself slowly and painfully, but with
resolute energy. The colossal structure of slavery had fallen,
scattering its ruins far and wide over the state ; but out of the
very debris was being taken the material to lay the deeper
foundations of the new social edifice. Men and women as old
as he were beginning life over and trying to fit themselves for
it by changing the whole attitude and habit of their minds,
by taking on a new heart and spirit. But when a great building
falls, there is always some rubbish, and the colonel and others
like him were part of this. Henceforth they possessed only
an antiquarian sort of interest, like the stamped bricks of

Nevertheless he made a show of doing something, and in a
year or two opened on Cheapside a store for the sale of hard
ware and agricultural implements. He knew more about the
latter than anything else; and, furthermore, he secretly felt
that a business of this kind would enable him to establish in
town a kind of headquarters for the farmers. His account
books were to be kept on a system of twelve months credit ;
and he mentally resolved that if one of his customers could n t
pay then, he should have another year s time.


Business began slowly. The farmers dropped in and found
a good lounging place. On county-court days, which were great
market days for the sale of sheep, horses, mules, and cattle in
front of the colonel s door, they swarmed in from the hot sun
and sat around on the counter and the plows and machines till
the entrance was blocked to other customers. When a cus
tomer did come in, the colonel, who was probably talking with
some old acquaintance, would tell him just to look around and
pick out what he wanted and the price would be all right. If
one of those acquaintances asked for a pound of nails, the
colonel would scoop up some ten pounds and say, " I reckon
that s about a pound, Tom." He had never seen a pound of
nails in his life ; and if one had been weighed on his scales, he
would have said the scales were wrong. He had no great idea
of commercial dispatch. One morning a lady came in for some
carpet tacks, an article that he had overlooked. But he at once
sent off an order for enough to have tacked a carpet pretty
well all over Kentucky ; and when they came, two weeks later,
he told Peter to take her up a double handful with his compli
ments. He had laid in, however, an ample and especially fine
assortment of pocket-knives, for that instrument had always
been to him one of gracious and very winning qualities. Then
when a friend dropped in he would say, " General, don t you
need a new pocket-knife ? " and, taking out one, would open
all the blades and commend the metal and the handle. The
" general " would inquire the price, and the colonel, having
shut the blades, would hand it to him, saying in a careless,
fond way, " I reckon I won t charge you anything for that."
HisjmneUnnlH nnt nnmo rlnwn to Hie km level of suck-ignoble
barter, and he gave awav f hf "-hnlp <if> o f knives.

These were the pleasanter aspects of his business life, which
did not lack as well its tedium and crosses. Thus there were
many dark stormy days when no one he cared to see came


in ; and he then became rather a pathetic figure, wandering
absently around amidst the symbols of his past activity, and
stroking the plows, like dumb companions. Or he would stand
at the door and look across at the old courthouse, where he
had seen many a slave sold and had listened to the great
Kentucky orators. Once, too, while he was deep in conver
sation, a brisk young farmer drove up to the door in a sulky
and called in pretty sharply that he wanted him to go out and

Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonSouthern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry → online text (page 23 of 35)